Ethics watchdog: Vitter's 'hypocrisy is astonishing'

An ethics watchdog group has filed a complaint with the Louisiana Bar against Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), accusing him of violating professional conduct rules with his patronage of prostitutes.

"By repeatedly committing the crime of soliciting for prostitution, Sen. Vitter violated the rules of professional conduct for lawyers and should be investigated and disciplined for his misconduct," Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said in a statement.

As CREW openly admits, it was prompted to file the complaint after what it saw as a hypocritical attack by Vitter against community organizer ACORN, several of whose members were recently caught on tape giving advice to a couple pretending to be a pimp and prostitute.

RAW STORY reported two weeks ago that Vitter's vocal condemnations of ACORN exposed him to charges of hypocrisy, as the Louisiana senator admitted two years ago to having been a client of the "DC Madam," Deborah Jeane Palfrey. His phone number had been found on her calling list. He is also alleged to have solicited two other prostitutes.

Last week, Vitter wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for a racketeering investigation into the community organizer.

CREW filed the complaint against Vitter because "the hypocrisy is astonishing and really can't be stomached," the group's executive director, Melanie Sloan, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Wednesday night. "It's just the height of irony for Mr. Vitter, of all the senators in the United States Senate, to decide he should be the guy to take on the issue of ACORN and prostitution, given his background."

As Maddow pointed out, Vitter has faced few if any consequences over his connections to prostitution, and is now running for re-election as senator from Louisiana.

Sloan defended CREW against accusations by Vitter that they are a pro-Democrat, pro-ACORN group by pointing out that the group has previously taken on Louisiana politicians Rep. William Jefferson and Sen. Mary Landrieu, both of whom are Democrats, and noting that CREW's latest "most corrupt list" features eight Democrats and seven Republicans.

Vitter took one on the chin Wednesday from the largest newspaper in his home state, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which declared that Vitter's offensive against ACORN "blew up in his face."

"The real problem for Vitter is that the CREW complaint doesn't distract attention from the ACORN story at all, it just joins him with ACORN as an object of scorn," the paper said in an opinion piece.

"Sen. Vitter might not be facing this kind of ethics hassle over his history with prostitutes if he had not been recently standing in his glass brothel throwing stones at community group ACORN," Maddow said, adding that Vitter "has had the chutzpah to put pictures of his family back into his campaign materials in this campaign cycle, so as to demonstrate, presumably, to Louisiana voters his personal family values."

This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Sept. 30, 2009.

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